Biffy Clyro: Only Revolutionaries

For a band that has played shows with The Who, Rolling Stones, Muse, Queens Of The Stone Age and Red Hot Chili Peppers and recently had two singles reach the UK top ten, Biffy Clyro isn't a name that finds much recognition in this part of the world. The are one of those bands that has somehow gone under the radar in Australia and yet, by rights they should be extremely popular with their mix of classic, stoner and indie rock sensibilities.


On the eve of the release of their fifth album Only Revolutions, bassist James Johnston chats with The Dwarf about touring, their steady rise to fame and getting Josh Homme to play on their new album.


Biffy Clyro are about to head off on a tour that will bring them to Australia (for a third time) this New Years Eve. They've built their reputation on the back of constant gigging though it isn't something the band are getting sick of. "There are aspects to it that are difficult like saying goodbye to loved ones, spending all the time in the bus. The three of us are really close and that extends to the rest of the crew guys, we've been a real team for the last few years so we've got each others back looking after each other. Its like a family on the road," says Johnston.


"We're sad to be leaving home but really excited to be going out and getting the chance to tour the album. We'll probably have a week or so off after we come down to Oz but we'll more or less just keep going, playing as many shows as we can. We built our foundations as a band playing live and its something I think is really important. You find out what a band is really like if you go and see them live so its really important for us to keep touring," Johnston explains.


Only Revolutions sees the band upping the ante with a stronger sound and some musical surprises. "We've tried to make an ambitious rock record. Musically we'll always be a hard rock band, a guitar band. Thats where our history lies but its important to be ambitious as well and try to surprise people a little bit. We started the album with a big brass section which I guess is something people didn't expect. Compared to the last record its a much more hopeful and optimistic sounding record. Its looking to the future compared to looking back on the past," Johnston says.


Though there is the cliche of bands always saying that their new album is their best one, Johnston believes they have produced their best work on Only Revolutions. "I think it is our best so far. For any band thats the ambition, you don't want to release an album and say ‘yeah its great but not quite as good as our last one'. That would be a hard thing to go through I imagine"


"We always want to make music we are proud of and I guess in doing so we try and make music we like. Hopefully it passes the litmus test and other people will like it as well. You've go to listen to yourself and what sounds honest and feels good to you. Along the way we've worked hard to make sure that was true on this album."


Making friends with other bands on tour can be a useful thing, especially when that can lead to someone like Josh Homme contributing to your album. "We hooked up with Josh on some tours in Europe and the US and got on really well and he taught us a lot about the relationships you have with different people in the industry and your record label," explains Johnston. "Queens don't seem to be reading off anyone else's hymn sheet, they're just doing their own thing and I think we've learnt a lot from that band."


The slow and steady rise of Biffy Clyro has meant they have avoided the explosion of hype that can be detrimental to a long term career so the band is naturally pleased with the way things have rolled out.


"You try and have an element of control over these things but a lot of the time it is out of your control and back in the day we never felt like we were struggling. We were definitely on the toilet circuit but it was great fun, we've loved every second of what we've always done and were never in too much in a hurry to get away from that. Some bands are very careerist and want to get to a certain point by next month and thats the way its gonna be. We definitely are an ambitious band but we've enjoyed every step of the way," says Johnston.


Keep an eye out for Biffy Clyro playing around Australia at the end of the year. The Scottish trio are renowned for playing hugely energetic shows that harness both the nuances of indie rock and the awesome riffage of hard rock. They are sure to be a festival favourite and a name that will become more popular with local rock fans as a result.




31 Dec- Pyramid Rock Festival, VIC 2 Jan 2010- Hi FI , Melbourne 3 Dec 2010- Metro Theatre, Sydney

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